The WASFAA News
       October/November 2001 Online Publication       



Nowadays it seems like financial aid administrators have very little time to spare as we expend energy not only trying to comply with highly complex and every increasing regulations and electronic processes but with the additional "hats" we wear on campus.

Features ...
No Excuses - Using Web Resources for Legislative Advocacy
by Tami Sato, Southern California College of Optometry

I got hooked on being a legislative advocate when I was able to change the requirement for a state grant for graduate students. The program required students to submit GRE test scores. Our optometry students are required to take the OAT (Optometry Admissions Test) test so to apply for this grant they had to take both tests. I noticed that they accepted the DAT (Dental Admissions Test) which is very similar to the OAT so I wrote a letter to our state agency and they agreed to accept the OAT test scores. Instead of just complaining to colleagues and feeling bad for students, a small amount of my time brought a big benefit for optometry students in California.

Nowadays it seems like financial aid administrators have very little time to spare as we expend energy not only trying to comply with highly complex and every increasing regulations and electronic processes but with the additional "hats" we wear on campus. Many may feel that they do not have any time to keep up with proposed regulations, let alone contact their legislators. But, I'm here to tell you that your computer can help you do both.

These web sites can help you and your students connect with your elected leaders, both Federal and State:

http://capitoladvantage.com
This web site includes a directory of the 107th Congress. Just enter your e-mail or state and their names and contact information will pop up. With just a click you can send an e-mail, print or fax a letter. You can see how your representatives are voting and what the status is of current legislation.

www.congress.org
This web site is part of Capitol Advantage and is called "Congress at Your Fingertips." It provides a more direct link to your elected officials and the ability to send an e-mail message.

www.senate.gov
This provides a list of the senators in alphabetical order. You can do a bill search and send an e-mail message.

www.house.gov
You can contact your representatives by entering your state and zip code.

www.pirg.org
This web site is supported by a combination of the various states Public Interest Research Groups (PIRG). At this web site you can look up a congressional scorecard (vote record) and even register to vote one word online. Many of the issues address environmental concerns but at the bottom of the home page there is a "Student Take Action" link. Here they list different topics including one on "Reducing Student Loan Debt." A letter is already written and all you have to do is enter your address, push a key, and your letter is sent. How easy is that?

Hope you'll find these web sites helpful and interesting. Go ahead, write your elected officials today!

When Time is of the Essence -
Legislative Responses by Telephone

Tami Sato, Southern California College of Optometry

Sometimes there will be a bill or vote that needs your immediate response and a phone call would be the easiest way to reach members of Congress. You can find your representative's phone number by using one of the web sites listed in my previous article or you can call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for your Senator's and/or Representative's office.

When you call a congressional office you will most likely be leaving a message with a staff member - usually the legislative assistant. You should ask to speak with the person who handles the issue to which you wish to comment.

Identify yourself and say for example: "Please tell Senator/Representative (Name) that I support/ oppose (S.________/H.R 9________)."

You may also want to state reasons for your support or opposition to the bill but keep your message brief and to the point. You can also ask for your Senator's or Representative's position on the bill.


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